Bulge bracket investment banking is no top career choice of MBA students and recent graduates. One quarter of respondents expressed a preference to working at consulting firms, up six percent from the previous year.  Twenty two percent of survey respondents stated a preference for bulge bracket banks according to a new study from Training The Street (TTS).

Starting salaries for graduates

Salaries for those starting from graduate school are up as well. Forty eight percent of the job offers boast starting salaries between $100,000 and $125,000, while twenty six percent had a salary of more than $125,000. This marks a 17% increase in the number of graduates joining the top top-tier salary range when compared to the previous year.

Investment banking under pressure

“Salaries have increased for the top candidates working as first year associates as banks have come under pressure to reduce their bonuses. Banks will continue to be an attractive place of employment for MBAs as long as their total compensation remains competitive and they create a better work-life balance that this new generation of bankers is seeking,” added Rostan.

Consulting firms recruiting aggressively

Consulting firms are recruiting aggressively. Forty eight percent of survey respondents said such firms actively recruited them, which also suggests that consulting is now the top career pick for MBA students and recent graduates.  Such recruiting by consulting firms is up 14% compared to last year’s survey. MBA students, by contrast, reported a 7% drop in active recruitment by bulge bracket banks as those institutions actively recruited 41% of respondents, the study said.

It seems entrepreneurs were not well represented in the recruiting, as only 15% responded that they were approached by startups, which is also a 7% drop from 2013. Only 5% of respondents chose startups as their top career choice.

Training workshops demand increases

“This year’s survey reflects the increased demand for training workshops tailored to consulting skills. More students are finding the need to acquire core technical skills for various financial career paths on and off Wall Street,” said Scott Rostan, CEO and Founder of Training The Street. “Regardless of their top choice, MBA graduates are still expressing optimism in their career prospects and are reporting higher starting salaries as well.”

Students are optimistic about their job prospects after school, with sixty percent of MBA students stating a positive outlook, up 12 percent from last year. Twenty nine percent said they are somewhat optimistic, while only 4% of respondents are somewhat or very pessimistic.

Other findings from the survey include:

  • 34% of respondents say that teamwork was considered by employers to be the most relevant skill when receiving an offer. Industry expertise came in second at 18%.
  • New York was the top location choice for US-based employment at 40%, while San Francisco/Menlo Park came in at second at 22%, and Chicago in third at 10%.
  • 75% of the survey respondents were male, and 88% were between the ages of 26-34.
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